CLIFF is a facility that has been designed to provide loan finance for slum development projects that are implemented by the urban poor, and which have the potential to influence policy and practice that in turn can lead to a scaling-up in the provision of suitable housing and related infrastructure for the urban poor.

The CLIFF concept emerged from a DFID-funded research project – Bridging the Finance Gap in Housing and Infrastructure – conducted by Homeless International in collaboration with local partner organizations in a number of countries.

The CLIFF project is expected to: 1) develop a finance facility (CLIFF) to assist organizations of the urban poor to carry out successful community-driven infrastructure, housing and urban services projects at city level, in conjunction with municipalities and the private sector; 2) Develop a sustainable finance facility (CLIFF1) in India to continue providing specialist financial services to the urban poor after the end of project funding 3) Develop a sustainable in-country finance vehicle (CLIFF2) in at least one other country (if further funds can be raised) to replicate the concept in a different institutional setting and to benefit additional communities/cities.

CLIFF is co-ordinated internationally by Homeless International, and currently implemented at the local level by two indigenous CBO-NGO alliances – the Indian Alliance and the Kenyan Alliance.

The direct funding inputs for CLIFF (to date) are DFID (£6.84m), Sida (20m Krona, £1.5m approx.),The Homeless International Guarantee Fund (£0.6m), Local revolving loan funds owned by SPARC and Nirman (approximating £1.2 million in India and £0.5 million in Kenya). These funds flow through the World Bank’s Cities Alliance program, which administers the facility on behalf of the donors.

Thanks to Ryan for pointing this out.


Slums: Beginning a Global Profile


Generally defined as a heavily populated urban area characterized by substandard housing and access to basic services, overcrowding, insecure tenure, and social exclusion. A slum is typically not recognized and addressed by public authorities as an integral or equal part of the city. Further, this definition can take two categorizations: Informal settlements such as squatter settlements and Declining communities in which conditions have degenerated due to neglect. Informal (improvisational) economic activities of slums are closely intertwined with the city’s formal economy and informal services located in slums often extend to the whole city in terms of clientele.


Over 30% of world’s urban population resides in slums

This type of urban living is particularly prevalent in developing regions accounting for 43% of all urban population (vs 6% in developed regions)

It is projected that population residing in slums will increase to 2 billion (approximately double) by 2030 if current trends persist

Population, specifically urban population, is growing rapidly in less developed countries – slums are a reservoir for much of this growth as formal construction, infrastructure, and building programs are unable to keep pace with these increases

Urban populations growing faster than the capacity of cities to support them

Slum formation diagram

UN Millennium Development Goals, Target 11

By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.

Builds upon the Cities Alliance’s Cities Without Slums initiative. The Cities Alliance was founded in 1999 by the World Bank and UN-Habitat, and h has expanded to 18 members, including leading global associations of local authorities, ten bilateral agencies and four multilateral agencies. It is a paradox that the greatest global challenges – urbanization and urban poverty – are increasingly being managed at the local level. This is at the heart of our research.

“In facing the challenge of slums, urban development policies should more vigorously address the issue of livelihoods of slum dwellers and urban poverty in general, thus going beyond traditional approaches that have tended to concentrate on improvement of housing, infrastructure, and physical environmental conditions. Slums are, to a large extent, a physical and spatial manifestation of urban poverty, and the fundamental importance of this fact has not always been recognized by past policies aimed at either the physical eradication or the upgrading of slums. Slum policies should seek to support the livelihoods of the urban poor, by enabling urban informal sector activities t flourish, linking low-income housing development to income generation, and ensuring easy access to jobs through pro-poor transport and low-income settlement location policies.”
The Challenge of Slums, Global Report on Human Settlements 2003 – UN Human Settlements Programme


General urban housing standards have improved in last decade. Until the financial crisis of 1997, formal building kept pace with urban growth. Some countries, such as Thailand have continued to improve their urban conditions. However, most urban populations grew faster then the capacity of cities to support them, so slums increased, particularly in South Asia.

Sub-Saharan Africa
Most cities in sub-Saharan Africa and some in Northern Africa showed considerable housing stress. Slum areas increased significantly and the rate of slum improvement was slow or negligible in most places. In South Africa, a very large housing program reduced the numbers of informal settlements substantially.

Latin America
In some countries there has been wholesale tenure regularization and a large drop in numbers of squatter households, reducing the number of slums under most definitions. Also, urbanization reached saturation levels so slum formation slowed. Still, housing deficits remain high and slums a prominent in most cities.



Cameron Sinclair

-Architects Without Borders:

UN Habitat

Habitat for Humanity

Solid House Foundation



Estudio Teddy Cruz

Design Corps
Design Corps’ mission is to create positive change in communities by providing architecture and planning services. Our vision is realized when people are involved in the decisions that shape their lives, including the built environment.

Arquitectura 911


Urban Think Tank
Alfredo Brillembourg
(+58 212) 951-0914 / 7363

tel. 55+21+2286-1817 cel. 55+21+8169-3416

Vigliecca & Assoc.
vigliecca @
+55 11 3082-2087

In 2000, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation was invited by the municipal authority of Rio de Janeiro to develop a model project for one of the 500 favelas in the Brazilian metropolis. This international co-operation on a project in a favela was a new departure.

South East Asia:

Tel: +91 (0)20-2444 0363, (0)20- 24482045, 020-9371015311
Email: ,
Architect Pratima Joshi set up Shelter, an organization which works with slum dwellers in Pune to improve sanitation and basic accommodation.

-Waste Concerns
+880-2-9873002, +880-2-9873067, +880-2-9873110
Waste Concern
House-21(Side B), Road-7, Block-G, Banani
Model Town,


CASE is a collaboration of architects that works in slums and tries to change the traditional role of the architect.

Global Studio

Global Studio

Global Studio Emergence in Istanbul, Turkey 2005

Global Studio is an international think-tank composed of a network of architects and planners, collaborating from 20 countries across the globe, that contribute to the UN’s efforts to improve slums, one of the UN’s 2000 Millennium Development Goals. Global Studio began as a pilot project, initiated by members of the United Nations Millennium Project’s Task Force and developed by a consortium of universities. The consortium was composed of 3 groups embedded within the Architecture Schools at the following universities; University of Sydney, Colombia University and The University of Rome, La Sapienza. The launched of the Studio was developed to coincide with the UIA (International Union of Architects) Congress, held in Istanbul in 2005. A site was chosen for the Studio at Zeyrek, in Istanbul and the competition working sessions were held during the duration of the Conference.

Studio Program

The Studio ran in three stages as:

i) an international design studio ‘A Home in the City: Urban Acupuncture in Zeyrek

  • all participants were architecture and planning students

ii) a stream within the UIA Congress ‘People Building Better Cities

  • participants included educators, practitioners and community leaders whom presented their individual work and engaged in dialogue with the UIA Congress participants about the contribution which design and planning professionals working with communities can make to improving the lives of the urban poor, and promoting environmental sustainability.

iii) a Future Directions Forum

Working Platform

The working platform for Global Studio aims to mobilise architects and designers to become involved with this kind of work, through marketing and implementation within a more generalized conference platform. This setting had advantages which were taken advantage of through the design of the program.

  • Running the Studio in unison with the Conference took advantage of the intellectual and networking pool.
  • Allowed an extending marketing and working platform
  • Removed logistical onus from the Studio organisers to provide platform ie. venue, sponsors etc.
  • The unique platform provided a chance to pool invaluable talent which streamed directly into a Conference Forum
  • The project also helped strengthen the Global Studio from a loose network of like-minded souls into a formal group
  • Furthered the debate about what architects can do and what lies outside their influenc

global-studio_participants.jpg istanbul-image-site.jpg

Project Proposal Development

Five teams from 20 countries, developed separate but complementary strategies for improving Zeyrek, a world heritage listed site, which is a low income housing neighbourhood in the heart of Istanbul’s “historic peninsula”. The proposals were developed in collaboration with the local population, with the aim being to improve the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the community.

  • At the largest scale, one proposal sought to improve the connections between Zeyrek and the rest of the city and boost the area’s economy. By revitalising old routes into Zeyrek and enlivening spaces leading to the mosque, the proposal sought to draw people into the area in a way that would benefit the local community.
  • Another solution sought to provide facilities such as a childcare centre, a skills training centre and a women’s health centre.
  • And a third looked at spatial strategies that would anticipate the impact of an earthquake, using open land as gathering places and aid drop-off points.
  • The ancient system of underground water channels and bostans, Zeyrek’s market gardens which used to pepper the area, provided inspiration for another proposal that would green the many wastelands to produce a chain of gardens and gathering places.
  • And at a small scale, one group mobilised the local children to clear a neglected site create a swing and paint a mural.

Global Studio, Johannesburg, South AfricaJune/July 2007

Building on Global Studio, Istanbul (2005) and Vancouver (2006), is Global Studio Johannesburg 2007, a four day forum with international speakers and local presenters, hosted by the University of Witwatersrand. The forum will offer two events:

  • People Building Better Cities, an interdisciplinary forum which is open to attendance
  • A hands-on studio

To view a short movie of the project:

Nairobi, Kenya

Eco-Build Africa
Beverly court,Marcus Garvey Road, Hurlingham,PO Box, 22746 – 00100 GPO, Nairobi , KenyaTel .254 (0)20 300 4983, Cell. +254-(0)723-883-912E-mail:

Planning System Services
Contact: Alfred Omenya

Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI)

Composed of members: Arthur Adeya, Patrick Curran, Ellen Schneider, Jen Toy, Chelina Odbert and Kotchakorn Voraakhom.KDI is affiliated with the Center for Environment and Technology in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.


kibera PS (KPS) – Pilot

the k.p.s. project is made up of several groups collaborating to create a practical, alternative model for improving the environment in Kibera. The group is united by a common understanding that there is tremendous potential for positive change in Kibera – but – such improvement need not drastically alter the physical and social composition of Kibera (unlike, for example, a traditional hi-rise upgrading model). At the same time, the problems are so vast that small projects need to be able to leverage more systemic change. The project approach enabled starting from the “bottom-up,” but also thinking from the “top-down.” The associated project blog offers a platform for the different actors interested in digging deeper into this unconventional model for physical upgrading – from community groups, residents, and ngos, to designers, academics, humanitarians,and other professionals – to discuss, debate, and ultimately get active.

For a recent update on the projects progress over Summer 07

Tecta Consultants
Erastus Abonyo, principal architect at Tecta Consultants, acts as consultant and local liaison for KDI.


This is a proposal of numbers and percentages. The data is presumptive at the moment and should not be taken for anything more than a loose outline for framing a new approach to managing levels of sustainable profit while addressing the issue of incorporating urban slums and their communities as part of the architectural marketplace. Let’s get going with the numbers:

world’s population

world population living below the basic poverty threshold (lacking access to basic shelter, health, water, education, energy or transport). This is what is often referred to as “The Other 90%.

world population living in extreme poverty (less than $1 USD/day).

world population living in moderate poverty (less than $2 USD/day).

percent of the world’s population that gets 80% of the world’s income.

deaths/year (50,000/day) due to poverty-related causes (lack of basic shelter, health, water, education, energy or transport).

poverty related deaths since 1990, the majority of which are women and children; roughly equal to the population of the US.

In economic terms, these numbers represent two critical elements that infer a successful business model: capital and need. If we look at only the world’s population living in moderate poverty and below, this equals 3.8 billion people; and if we assume the average income is half of the category to which they belong (> $1 or $2), we have an estimated income of $4.6 billion. Naturally, this income is spread across a variety of needs, including shelter, health, nutrition, education, energy and transport. Let us assume that the average person in poverty spends 5% of his or her income on shelter and urban infrastructure. This then gives us a global market of $230 million, and this does not include philanthropic funding, sweat equity, or volunteer efforts for those above the poverty threshold. (Data for these categories, while difficult to determine precisely, is forthcoming). The capital therefore exists, as does the need for an architectural market in the various forms of shelter (which can be assumed to bleed into education, health, water, energy and transport, since all of these needs require shelter of some sort). So we have a new number to add to the list:

global market in USD which can be assumed to be designated for an initial architectural market in urban slums.

But while $230 million might seem like a sizable market, it is actually quite small give other global economies, let alone the infrastructural needs of urban slums. Let us therefore imagine a potential professional model that might bolster these figures. This model is composed of elements that can be drawn from existing models outside the practice of architecture. The first element in this professional model pertains to free, or pro bono work. Pro bono publico (often shortened to pro bono) is a phrase derived from Latin meaning “for the public good.” The term is used to describe professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment, as a public service. It is common in the legal profession and is increasingly seen in the practice of medicine and technology services. Unlike traditional volunteerism, pro bono service leverages the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them. In the legal profession, pro bono counsel may assist an individual or group on a legal case, and if the case is won, occasionally the judge may determine that the loser should compensate the pro bono counsel. Lawyers in the United States are recommended under American Bar Association ethical rules to contribute at least fifty hours of pro bono service per year.

The next element can be taken from international fundraising tactics, such as the 1% principle. This principle has been applied to various causes throughout the world, most notable the environmental. We consider this element for its potential incorporation into a model of practice where a portion of the profession’s services are devoted to pro bono causes, just as they already are in law and medicine. The architectural profession n the United States is regulated by an organized consortium of governing bodies, such as the AIA and NCARB. If these organizations were to build into their structure a system of certification for practicing firms in the United States, where each firm is required to contribute 1% of its annual capital in pro bono services, the global market figure listed above would jump significantly based on a bulk factor of in-kind, service-oriented contributions. The firms, themselves, might be required to contribute their efforts as such, or they might be given incentive in the form of federal tax-breaks and promotional advertising.

One of the main problems within this system, meanwhile, is the issue of sustainable profit. For this, we should look at the existing economic model of micro-loaning and the self-sustaining profit structure for keeping an organization financially afloat. Institutions such as the Grameen Bank, for example, use micro-lending as a system for generating profit based on interest on loans, sometimes upwards of 20%, and the bank reports 98% of loans repaid in full. The structure of this model indicates that a population in poverty can be a responsible body of lenders, and that a business servicing this population need no operate only as a non-profit of non-governmental organization in order to be financially viable.

The notion of a self-sustaining profit-driven model suggests another element in the professional model we are proposing. If firms in the United States are required to contribute a percentage of their annual capital to pro bono, slum-oriented causes, there will need to be a regulating body of organizations that manage the dispersal of effort. To this end, we intend to research specific models of collaboration where this level of financial organization and dispersal of effort might be reintroduced into the professional structure of the practice model.




Wikipedia’s ENTRY on global poverty by country.

A map documenting MEGA-SLUMS

And a map of urban population living in slums BY COUNTRY

Wikipeda also explains that “The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than US$ (PPP) 1 per day, and moderate poverty as less than $2 a day. It has been estimated that in 2001, 1.1 billion people had consumption levels below $1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day. The proportion of the developing world’s population living in extreme economic poverty has fallen from 28 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2001. Much of the improvement has occurred in East and South Asia. In Sub-Saharan Africa GDP/capita shrank with 14 percent and extreme poverty increased from 41 percent in 1981 to 46 percent in 2001. Other regions have seen little or no change. In the early 1990s the transition economies of Europe and Central Asia experienced a sharp drop in income. Poverty rates rose to 6 percent at the end of the decade before beginning to recede. [9] There are various criticisms of these measurements.”